By providing beekeeping skills, METGE is aiming to assist local people in producing and harvesting organic quality honey, and other products like propolis...Read More
The Mbale Trees Programme stands apart from many tree planting initiatives by prioritizing community engagement over regimented mono-culture plantations aimed at carbon markets or timber production. Their approach focuses on enhancing community resilience to climate change. Key to their strategy are tree nursery operators, pivotal figures within the program. The selection of nursery sites involves careful consideration of community interest, the broader nursery network, and potential environmental and social benefits. Once a village is chosen, METGE collaborates with the district environmental officer to identify community members passionate about environmental causes. These individuals are then trained to operate tree nurseries, nurturing and distributing tree seedlings to local land managers and institutions for free, encouraging widespread tree planting on their respective lands.
The Model Parish approach was inspired and born out of METGE discussions in 2018 with community leaders across the Mount Elgon Region. This is a more holistic approach to tree planting and agro-forestry, working with smallholder farmers on a village scale and bringing them together to discuss issues, receive training and embrace tree planting within their communities. As well as the nursery operators, who are central to the functionality of this approach, METGE also employ 'Community Facilitators'. These facilitators are respected members of the village, who have a good understanding of agro-forestry practices, and who are able to enthuse community members to embrace these holistic methods of growing trees and food.
As part of the holistic management of the environment in the Mbale region, METGE also employs an apiary specialist. Bees provide countless benefits to people, and the environment. Bees not only help to pollinate around a third of crops worldwide, but they also help to protect crops from attack by elephants. Bees also provide food for humans in the form of honey, as well as wax, and medicine in propolis and venom. Our bee keeping specialist is tasked with training local farmer groups, individuals, and communities on the benefits of bees, as well as the best ways to manage African honeybees to ensure their populations thrive. This includes important hygiene methods needed in the hive, ensuring that there is adequate forage for the bees year-round, and of course, safe and effective ways to harvest a sustainable crop from the hives.
Since the Mbale Trees Programme began in 2008, we have distributed more than 20 million trees, for free, to farmers, schools, families, and land managers in the Mount Elgon region. These trees have been planted in a variety of settings. Due to land fragmentation as families grow and split their farms, many farmers have less than one hectare to grow enough food for their family. If the land is managed carefully a sustainable cash crop such as coffee, beans, or bananas can be grown alongside a family’s food. All of these crops benefit greatly from tree shade, which can provide protection from the strong sun, and from sudden heavy downpours, strong tropical winds, and large destructive hailstorms. Intercropping with agro-forestry trees is, therefore, the most common use of trees distributed in this programme
As well as distributing trees from our nursery network, we also train communities in building Lorena fuel-efficient stoves. More than 90% of cooking in Uganda is done using wood, and the traditional way of doing this is with the '3 stone fire'. Although popular, this method can bring about many disadvantages. The open fire is a hazard, especially for the young. The smoke from these fires - which are usually enclosed in small rooms - is highly toxic, and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) can cause significant health problems such as pneumonia in infants, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer. Finally, the 3 stone fires are highly inefficient, since most of the heat is lost to the atmosphere, thus requiring greater quantities of wood.
Mbale is a region in Eastern Uganda, overlooked by the imposing Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano of the Great Rift Valley. Wagagai, its highest summit, is at an altitude of 4,321m and sprawls out over 4,000 kilometres squared, making it the largest volcanic base in the world! Within the last few decades, the environment around Mount Elgon has changed significantly. Rainforests have been cut down and populations have increased exponentially. The Welsh Government has worked in this region since 2006, building strong relationships with its people, as well as funding projects in education, healthcare, and the environment. The biggest programme yet to be funded by the Welsh Government’s Wales and Africa team is the Mbale Trees Programme. Welsh charity Size of Wales works closely with an in-country Non-Governmental Organisation, Mount Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise to achieve the ambitions of this programme.
Support us to plant even more trees that will reduce CO2, mitigating the effects of climate change, helping rural communities reduce poverty by supplying a variety of trees for food, shelter, fuel and other financial benefits.